A home appraisal can make or break your real estate deal. Appraisers set the fair market value of a property. If you're selling, buying or getting a loan, an appraiser will report your home's value to the bank or buyer. While appraisers look at the entire property and use various factors to set value, the appraiser focuses on some specific areas.
The appraiser will check your home's roof, outside walls, porch and other outside features for evidence of major problems. He'll also confirm the home and land square footage, as footage is part of your value. You'll gain value for exterior improvements, such as vinyl siding. While the home's overall condition is the appraiser's primary concern, he's also looking at cosmetic appeal. For example, if your exterior is chipping and faded, you'll lose value. Overgrown lawns and poor landscaping also eat away at the appraised value by hurting curb appeal. If you have a rough or unkempt exterior, you won't entice buyers.
Once inside, the appraiser will look for obvious damage, such as marks from water damage. He'll count the rooms in the house and check the walls, floors, ceilings and doors. While it won't matter if your home is a little messy, don't leave clutter about. The appraiser must be able to get around the home to visually inspect it. He will value some permanent items you can't remove from your home, such as a built-in stove, but will only confirm your heat and cooling fixtures. Appraisers don't inspect furnaces or installed air-conditioning units but do check to make sure the appliances exist and currently work.
The appraiser will confirm and value upgrades and updates you've made to the home, such as a new kitchen or bathroom. But the value of an update isn't determined by how much you spent. The appraiser will look at various things, such as the size of the job, the materials used and the market values in your area, when putting a value on work you've done to the home. Unfinished jobs can hurt value, so don't start any projects you can't finish before the appraisal.
The appraiser might only include permanent attachments, depending on local custom. If he only considers permanent things, he won't add the value of an above-ground pool or movable shed to your appraisal. Appraisers look at the values of similar homes around yours when setting your home's value. Do some research yourself, before the appraisal, so you have an idea of what your home's value should be.
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